Esprit Orchestra is Canada's only full-sized orchestra devoted exclusively to performing and promoting new orchestral music.
Formed in 1983 by Music Director and Conductor Alex Pauk, this innovative Toronto-based orchestra commissions, performs and promotes Canadian composers through its annual concert Subscription Series.
Every season, Alex Pauk and his 75-member orchestra collaborate with outstanding soloists and ensembles to give audiences spine-tingling performances of contemporary classical music in the acoustically acclaimed Koerner Hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music Telus Centre for Performance and Learning.
The Subscription Concert series also features Canadian premieres of music by leading International composers, including Adams, Andriessen, Kurtág, Ligeti, Penderecki, Schnittke, Takemitsu, van der Aa, among many others.
Alex Pauk and the orchestra have collaborated with leading soloists and ensembles including Jean Stilwell, Maureen Forrester, Barbara Hannigan, Rivka Golani, Desmond Hoebig, Richard Margison, the Molinari Quartet, Jon Kimura Parker and his brother Jamie, Russell Braun, Elmer Iseler Singers, Marie Berard, Teng Li, André Laplante, Robert Aitken, Duo Turgeon, and NEXUS, among others.
In 1985, the orchestra initiated the education and audience development program, Toward a Living Art (TALA). TALA has involved thousands of students in workshops, rehearsals and concerts with conductor Alex Pauk, Esprit musicians, leading soloists and composers.
The following year, Esprit initiated its Student Audience Program, with generous patron donors providing high school students with free, subsidized tickets to Esprit's regular subscription concerts.
In the spring of 2002, Esprit presented its first ever Young Composers Festival, The Weekend, now known as the New Wave Composers Festival. The Orchestra brought together a large group of young Canadian composers with young composers and filmmakers from Holland for a compact two-day event featuring two evenings of concerts, Pre-Concert Chats by composers, special performances by featured artists, talks by leading cultural figures, and short film presentations by leading Canadian and Dutch filmmakers. The filmmakers and composers who participated in The Weekend was part of a longstanding partnership of music making between Esprit and The Netherlands.
This well-attended two-day event served to help launch the careers for 14 rising-star Canadian composers. The festival continues as a forum and rendezvous for young, emerging artists to exchange ideas, meet the public, participate in seminars and panel discussions, and plan for participation in future Esprit events. Many of these rising star composers, never having met one another, make the festival a point of contact that creates an important sense of cohesion for their generation of composers.
Esprit is a non-profitable charitable organization governed by its volunteer Board of Directors.
Esprit receives financial support from The Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, The SOCAN Foundation, BMO Financial Group, The Max Clarkson Family Foundation, The Hal Jackman Foundation, The Mary-Margaret Webb Foundation, The Koerner Foundation, subscribers, individual ticket buyers, individual and corporate donors, and bequests.